Sunday, June 03, 2007

Time for Audition

No, not Miike's Audition (as fucked up as it is, like most of his movies) but Audition Portable for the PSP. The game comes out tomorrow in Korea and i'll most likely be getting the actual game next week, but of course i'll probably be playing it tomorrow if the iso is out (since i can't bear the wait). Well, as always, I enjoy covering games that many ppl do not know about, so when I first heard about Audition Portable coming to the PSP (just a month ago), i was eager to find some info about it.

The game is like DJ Max Online/Portable, another music rhythm game that hails from Korea. Both games started out as a free online game (still is free but you need to pay for the premium stuff, the traditional asian online standard) and was/is later ported to the PSP. The company T3 Entertainment most likely saw the huge success of Pentavision's DJ Max Portable and wants to replicate the same success w/ it's own IP on the PSP.

So, it didn't take me long to register for Audition Online as the game was officially released in the North America just over 2 months ago by Nexon. However, one should note that Audition Online has been released in Korea and most East Asian countries for 1-2 years now. Though English language is featured in NA and some countries, you need certain accounts or IDs to access. For Canada, US and Mexico, one needs a Nexon passport (free) and a NA IP to access the game. Sorry Europeans, u guys can still play, you'll just have to work out the language barrier depending on the country's server you decide to go with (none of the free ones are in Eng.). Anyways, just of note that the NA Nexon Audition Online users have recently exceeded 100,000 users including yours truly. I've been playing it on and off for almost 3 weeks now, i'm at a lvl. 6 and I will not give out my online name as I currently suck :P.

Well, i'm not sure how many modes the PSP contains, i'm sure it'll contain all the single modes and most of the group modes. the key feature is that it'll feature online play so one can play online almost anywhere that has an internet connection. The game is your standard music rhythm game where you have to press the directions (and buttons, for the PSP) indicated on the screen. There's a little timer bar right above too, giving some pressure.
One can choose from 4 keys or 8 keys in the online version. Audition is most similar to the Enix music rhythm game, Bust a Move/Bust a groove. Like Bust a Move/Groove, you see your character perform dance moves in front of you as you press the according buttons. Moves depend on song and level. Unlike Bust a Groove, not only can you play against 1 other but most dance battles are played in groups. Person who with the highest score, takes center stage and dances in front of everyone, until someone bests him/her out. The game can be a little easy for veterans of the genre but still challenging nonetheless, especially when online and you're facing really really good players.

The online aspect can get quite addicting as you can accessorize your dance character to your fancy. In order to do that you need to get Beats or Den, which is the currency used in the game (Beats is the name in the NA version, while Den is the official name). Beats/Den can be obtained through dance battles or purchased using real cash. The LE of Audition Portable not only includes a bunch of junk but 100,000 den. FYI, i didn't get the LE as i'm not interested in the swag 'cept for the soundtrack (which one can easily get soon afterwards, plus i already have most of the songs from the online games). I just personally didn't find any justification forking an extra 50 bucks on this one. Not only is the character customization addicting but like all online games, playing w/ others is most fun. The group battles are so much fun. The couples mode is a very interesting mode where you dance w/ another live partner online. In some versions of the game, if both of you are really good, it can lead to a wedding for your in game characters. Just don't take the couples mode TOO seriously ;).

No music game is any good w/out good music and Audition doesn't disappoint most of the time. There's a good mix of original songs and licensed songs (namely the Korean version and few other countries for the latter, in NA we get licensed crap like Hilary Duff but good stuff like 2XL). A good chunk of the songs are really good but the bad ones do stand out...sorely. The thing w/ Audition is that most songs are normal full length songs ranging 4-6 mins long. Though full length songs never feel long in other music games, in Audition, they FEEL VERY LONG. The reason for this, is the little breaks between pressing the directions and watching your character (and others) dance a bit. So it doesn't flow like most music games and doesn't feel as fast paced as Bust a Groove, even when you're watching your opponent doing his/her moves. So, imagine the torture having to play thru a shitty long song (Bust a Move/Groove songs range from 2-3 mins). The dance moves are animated very well and there's a great variety. However, when playing for umpteenth time, moves will start getting old to watch.

So, my final thoughts on Audition Online (and may as well count for Portable) are that it's an above average music rhythm game. The graphics are very good w/ a huge amount of fashion accessories but the facial features are meh. It's taken a cute-anime-Pinky fig-style which I was never fond of. It just looks weird (and scary) on proportioned characters. The background levels are pretty sparse and most of 'em are dull. Hopefully, the Audition Portable will remedy that. Other than those nitpicks, dance animations are superb and there's some good songs, fave is Canon Grove (cuz i luv Pachelbel's Canon in D in any form) and 2XL's Magic City. There's a bunch on the Korean soundtrack that i also dig (i wuv u lee hyori) but haven't played, obviously. I hope the PSP game will be like DJ Max Portable in which a good deal of the game is in English. Otherwise, it's gonna be a bitch going thru the game cuz unlike JPN games, where i have a decent knowledge of the language (thanks to Uni and my CHN background), i know fuck all of the Korean language. Thus, may have to rely on friends (and the internet of course). Language will play a key factor cuz there's a heavy emphasis online and if you're one who doesn't like playing games online w/ others, then you're not gonna get much out of this game. Single player will most likely not get you very far. Also, i'm expecting the cash system to be implemented like the online Audition where you can use real money to get in game currency (den). So, if you're one who doesn't like to play w/ ppl online, this game may not be for you. Though it may be a good start to play online, as i for one don't play much games online nor enjoy it (last game i played intensively online was Counter Strike, back in 02-03 :P). Thus, i don't see myself going very far w/ this game. For more info on the game as well as stuff i mentioned, check the wiki site. North American readers interested should check out some interviews IGN had w/ Nexon. Till next gaming gem.

yesh kanu yesh


johnny said...

Yeah man I got the game ordered on eBay as Playasia don't ship to Europe and it doesn't look like anyone else is carrying it. Should be cool.

R8 said...

@ johnny: i played a bit of it last night. it's not bad but if you play it on the PC, it's severely limited. the controls took getting used to but i got it down in no time. i didn't like how the combined clothing as outfits. so customization sorta sucks compared to the PC. anyways, i don't see myself sticking long to this game as Audition Online is better in every way.

johnny said...

Not really worried tbh. Obviously won't top DJ Max 1 & 2 but as long as it's playable I don't care as I've never played the PC ver.
Days of Memories shipped today :)

R8 said...

yeah, i personally don't think it has the replay value of DJ MAX Portable (nor the addicting gameplay), but the AO is of course a different story.
Sweet deal on Days, i canceled my preorder cuz i thought i'd have DS by now. But i'll be getting sometime soon...hopefully. I got a buddy who's into SNK fighting games to get it, so i'll still be able to see how it goes :D.

Felisha said...

You need to up date this ^^